How the Institute Works

  1. A project is undertaken by the Institute only upon the careful consideration and prior approval of its officers and the Council, ALI's governing body. When a project has been authorized, an expert in the field of law to be considered, usually a legal scholar, is designated as Reporter. With the help of research assistants, the Reporter does the basic research and prepares the initial draft of the material.
  2. This initial draft is submitted for suggestions and revisions to a small group of Advisers — judges, lawyers, and law professors — with special knowledge of the subject. In most projects the draft is also reviewed by a Members Consultative Group consisting of members of the Institute with particular interest in the subject.
  3. The revised draft is next submitted for further analysis and consideration to the Council. The draft can then be referred either to the Reporter and the Advisers for further consideration or to the Annual Meeting for review by the membership.
  4. When approved by the Council, the draft as further revised is presented as a Tentative Draft to an Annual Meeting of the entire membership for debate and discussion and is then made available for public distribution. The membership may approve the Tentative Draft, subject to any revisions agreed to, or refer it back to the Reporter and Advisers for additional consideration.

A series of Tentative Drafts is produced in this manner over a period of years. When the treatment of a subject has thus been completed, a Proposed Final Draft, consisting of all prior Tentative Drafts and reflecting membership action, may be submitted to the Council and the membership. When the project has been approved by both, the official text of The American Law Institute is prepared for publication.

For more information about the drafting process, visit the Projects section.

The final product, the work of highly competent group scholarship, thus reflects the searching review and criticism of learned and experienced members of the bench and bar. Many Institute publications have been accorded an authority greater than that imparted to any legal treatise, an authority more nearly comparable to that accorded to judicial decisions.